Confessions of a Spec Tater — Life after Death

James Cameron, the man who brought movie audiences such cinematic masterpieces as Piranha Part Two: The Spawning and some other movie about a boat that I can’t remember the name of right now, is finally returning to the big screen with Avatar, his theatrical adaptation of the popular cartoon series, The Smurfs.

By combining his computer effects wizardry with the beloved characters from the classic Belgium cartoon, Cameron is sure to have another smurftacular hit on his mothersmurfin’ hands.

Now, as revolutionary as Cameron is in all things under God’s sun, for once this isn’t a case of the King of the World introducing society to a new concept.

Television shows, after all, have previously found new life on the big screen after their cancellation.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture was released 10 years after the original series ended its run. The movie was ushered into production in large part as a result of the fan conventions that sprouted after the show began to run in syndication.

Unfortunately, the movie still came too late for those nerds who couldn’t take the fact that their favorite show had been axed and settled in for a date with a warm bath, a razor blade and a framed photo of William Shatner.

Firefly, another science-fiction television show, also received a theatrical continuation of its story line thanks to the show’s impressive DVD sales and a slightly more socially acceptable group of fans.

Although Serenity, the film version of Firefly, didn’t perform well at the box office, rumors of a sequel tend to come up now and then thanks to the show and film’s successful DVD sales.

Other television shows that found new life on the big screen include Police Squad! (repurposed into the Naked Gun franchise), Strangers with Candy (based on a late-’90s Comedy Central show starring Amy Sedaris and Stephen Colbert) and Twin Peaks (Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me was both a prequel and epilogue to the David Lynch-produced television show).

Mulholland Drive, another Lynch film, was re-edited from a television pilot passed over by ABC.

With the success of the Sex and the City movie, I hope there is a continuing trend to reunite the actors of fan-favorite shows that were canceled instead of simply remaking and recasting shows that are remembered more for nostalgia than the actual quality of the original show (cough Transformers cough).

Here are a few shows that could find a new audience on the big screen:

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Despite critical acclaim, Arrested Development never found firm footing on the small screen.

Fox tried to keep it afloat, but the show’s large budget paired with small audiences led to an early demise of this very funny program.

I think the big screen is a perfect place for the Bluth family to reunite.

Although some cast members have gone on to find successful solo careers, a big-screen reunion could produce a film that combined the best of Christopher Guest and The Royal Tenenbaums.

While rumors continue to fly that the cast and creator of the show are hard at work preparing a big-screen version of Arrested Development, my hopes have been dashed enough that I will remain a cynic until I see the first trailer.

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Kristin Bell is a superstar waiting to happen. As TV teen sleuth Veronica Mars, Bell possessed more than her share of wit and charm, a combination that complimented the show’s razor-sharp writing.

In fact, it’s a surprise nobody has brought Veronica Mars to the big screen yet.

This is one franchise that’s primed to explode. A modern-day Nancy Drew that never talks down to her audience, the movie doesn’t even need to have a lot of ties to the cancelled show — just team Bell up with series creator Rob Thomas for a mystery movie. Whatever comes out is bound to be better then When in Rome.

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Miracles was a little-seen supernatural drama that was unfortunately swallowed alive by the reality television craze of the early part of the decade.

Starring Skeet Ulrich and Angus Macfadyen, every episode was comparable to the best of The X-Files.

Tense and often very scary story lines provided a backdrop to Ulrich’s underrated acting. A film version wouldn’t have a lot of baggage to bring along.

Fewer people remembering the show would mean fewer people complaining that the adaptation didn’t live up to the dreams and hopes that had been immortalized in the (probably slash) fan-fiction created after the show’s cancellation.

Instead, the producers could just concentrate on creating a spooky supernatural film with compelling characters, a film that would finally carry on the legacy of The Exorcist.

There are, of course, many other shows that have been canceled or forgotten that could launch amazing feature films. Freaks and Geeks, The Tick, Dark Angel, Gargoyles or Boomtown being just the tip of the Cameron-sized iceberg.

What show would you love to see get another shot at redemption on the big screen?

Robert Saucedo has a great idea for a movie version of “Cop Rock” in case any Hollywood executives are reading. Visit him on the web at www.robsaucedo.com.

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